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Overflowing Nile Rivers Flood Central Sudan, Two Million Homeless With AM-Sudan-Victims

August 14, 1988

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ Heavy rains pushed the two main branches of the Nile River over their banks Sunday, swamping huge sections of central Sudan and worsening a disaster that already has left 2 million people homeless, news reports said.

The reports said the Blue Nile and White Nile, which converge at Khartoum to form the Nile, were overflowing Sunday south of this capital city.

Finance Minister Omar Nour el-Dayem told reporters Saturday the floods have killed at least 58 people, injured 213 and destroyed 167,000 houses in the Khartoum area.

Irrigation Minister Mahmoud Beshir Gamma said damage was expected to extend from central and northern Sudan into Egyptian territory.

An Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram, in a dispatch from Khartoum, said in its Monday editions that the two Nile tributaries on Sunday spilled across a region south of Khartoum ″until only tree tops remained visible.″

The El-Gezira district, in central Sudan between the two branches of the Nile, is one of the country’s richest agricultural zones. It produces cotton, a leading export, and a loss of the crop could prove disastrous Sudan’s already faltering economy.

For the past 10 days Khartoum and other cities in central, eastern and northern Sudan have suffered floods caused by heavy rains that officials said are the worst in the country’s history.

More than 1,200 tons of relief supplies, including tents, medicine and food, have arrived in Khartoum from donors worldwide, but Nour el-Dayem told a news conference in Khartoum the aid is insufficient for the millions affected by the floods.

Richard Mosovy, a member of the committee coordinating the relief operation, denied reports that aid was being withheld from some 750,000 people who fled the civil war and drought in southern Sundan and moved into squatter camps that ring Khartoum.

″It just so happens that those living in outlying areas are inaccessible to those distributing food,″ Mosovy told reporters.

Some journalists have said they saw no evidence of aid being distributed in the camps and there were reports of some supplies being diverted to the army. Nour el-Dayem denied that and said ″the army is giving its supplies to the people.″

Intestinal infections and diarrhea epidemics have broken out in many settlements from people drinking unclean water, the World Health Organization’s representative told international relief agencies Saturday.

Dr. Nicholas Ward said cholera was an immediate risk, with outbreaks of malaria and typhoid expected within weeks.

The U.N. Emergency Office in Khartoum said more rains were forecast through August and into September.